The orange Dolav recyling bins at Kibbutz Dvir in the Negev.
The orange Dolav recyling bins at Kibbutz Dvir in the Negev. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkovitz
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Save your holiday garbage, people of Israel: save your emptied plastic bottles of floor cleaner and cans of consumed corn. No, the trash doesn't have to stay festering and feeding flies in the vestibule. Some 700,000 residents of Bat Yam, Eilat, Herzliya and several other cities should get to see orange recycling bins near their homes after the upcoming Jewish holiday period ends in October.

Or they may not, as cities drag their feet on their side of the deal. But that's the plan.

The goal is to recycle two-thirds of household containers within three years. The orange bins are designated for packaging made out of plastic or metal, and will join the existing recycling bins for plastic bottles and for paper.

Though the plan is scheduled to go into effect after the fall holidays, there may be delays because the local authorities have been slow to get involved.

Manufacturers that produce packaging waste are supposed to achieve a recycling rate of 40 percent by the end of the year. But the law holds local authorities responsible for actually collecting and recycling the waste, which is the rub.

The Tamir Manufacturers' Recycling Corporation, founded by the Manufacturers Association of Israel to help Israeli manufacturers and importers meet their legal obligations governing packaging disposal, recently reached a deal with 12 local authorities on funding for the project.

"We've put effort into implementing this law," said Gami Barzilai, who heads the Union of Local Authorities environmental administration. He said an official has been hired to help all 202 local authorities prepare for implementing the law.

Tamir represents 450 manufacturers and importers, which fund the company's efforts to collect, recycle and recover packaging waste.

"These are entities that produce 250,000 tons of packaging a year, about one-quarter of all the packaging waste in Israel," said Tamir CEO Kobi Dar.

The local authorities' participation was delayed until a government committee decided several months ago how the funding for the recycling program would be split between the businesses and the cities and towns.

Now another problem has arisen: Some towns want to use the orange bins but fear that new environmental regulations requiring them to sort wet and dry waste would not allow them to break down the dry waste into separate categories. The Environmental Protection Ministry is expected to look into the issue in the coming days and is expected to give the local authorities a chance to figure out the most effective way to collect waste.

According to Dar and Barzilai, nearly 40 local authorities are already taking part in a ministry program to sort trash into wet and dry waste.

Dar said he expects more factories to open up if plastic waste sorting improves.

He said he is worried by the slow pace at which the local authorities are joining the program, which he said could make it difficult for companies to obey the law.

"I think the authorities have an interest in joining, because this is a process in which an external group - industry - is funding the collection and treatment of waste," said Dar.